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CyanideBlizzard's Infinite Stratos Tv Review

Infinite Stratos tv Review

Story & Characters

Guilty Pleasures. Out of everything that I enjoy, I always return to those series that I find to be guilty pleasures. These series are normally something that isn't truly exception, but at the same time are not exactly terrible either. They find a proper balance and appeal to us on a personal level that keeps us coming back for more, despite the fact that they may not be worth a revisit. This is the best way I can describe Infinite Stratos. A pure guilty pleasure and maybe just a little bit more.

Infinite Stratos follows the life of Ichika Orimura, a young man who is the first known male that can pilot the legendary mecha-style exo-skeleton, Infinite Stratos (IS). These units, for unknown reasons, only respond to females. So, when Ichika activates one, you can image the shock. He then enrolls in the all girls school of IS academy. It's not hard to figure out that this series is going to take the harem route and wastes no time getting the characters established. We are first introduced to Houki Shinonono, childhood friend of Ichika and playing the part of the typical tsundere in the series. We are then introduced to the Cecilia Alcott, who immediately challenges Ichika to a duel to decide who should be class president and falls for him under the philosophy of "He has bested me so now I automatically admire him for no real reason". Shortly afterwards, Huang Lingyin, another childhood friend of Ichika, transfers in. This is followed by Charlotte Dunois, who disguises herself as a boy and then immediately drops the disguise for relatively no reason. Lastly we are rounded off with another tsundere, Laura Bodewig. Each character, while fairly stereotypical, is a welcomed addition to the show and brings a certain extra appeal to it.

The series itself wastes no time gathering all the cast together and establishing the reasons for why each of the main female characters like Ichika. Hilarity and stereotypical antics ensue, along with two completely pointless filler episodes and a thrown-out-of-left-field serious turn for the ending. While IS maybe stereotypical in many areas, it does more than enough to break the mold. Ichika, while dense, is a likeable character. He generally misunderstands vague hints the girls give that they like him, enough to a level that the audience can understand and not brush it off as him just being a complete dunce. It also helps that he's a strong character that cares about his friends, helping to add more depth than what we normally see from most harem series. It also helps that each of the five ladies also have very different personalities and we get to know each of them rather well (or at least in comparison to most harem series), with the exception of Cecilia and Huang, who don't get nearly enough development compared to the rest. Aside from that, my only real issue is with Charlotte. They go through great depth to explain why she disguised herself and she forms a bond with Ichika over it. Yet, for some random reason, this is completely dropped in the next episode. So what was the point of even having this scene if the show immediately decides, "Oh wait, I change my mind. I don't want to do this anymore".

One of the biggest issues I have with IS is that it doesn't know what it wants to do. The first five episodes do a great job introducing the cast and setting the stage for the final act, but then over half way through we're thrown two filler episodes that take place at a beach and an inn for no better reason than they simply do. While there was some plot established and progression was made, these episodes just get thrown in there and really do nothing to forward the series. While not nearly as bad as The Sacred Blacksmith, they also don't really help in this twelve episode run of the series. It makes it even more confusing because the series takes a fairly serious turn for the final episodes. While the series has generally had a light-hearted tone, I felt that these filler episodes made it even more of a noticeable change than had they not been introduced. Yet all the same, I enjoyed the short story that was told and wouldn't mind seeing more of it.

Rating: 6

Art

One of the things that really makes IS a treat is it's art. This is a beautiful series, there is no doubt about it. Characters are well animated and fairly far from static. Environments are beautiful and I really loved the studios decision to change the classroom to a more futuristic look instead of the traditional school scene from the manga. However, the true star of the show are the IS battles. These are, hands down, the best part of the show. Beautifully done, they provide plenty of detail and are far from simplistic. My only complaint was that there simply wasn't enough of them. However, there were more than enough to truly enjoy.

While the art style itself isn't revolutionary, nor is it ground breaking, it does the job and it looks darn good doing that job too. This, in my opinion, is extremely exceptional artwork for a TV series.

Rating: 7

Sound

Sound is another department that, while well done, truly doesn't leave any outstanding impressions. The voice work was very well done, with Koki Uchiyama doing a wonderful job as Ichika Orimura. While not a diverse character, Mr. Uchiyama went above and beyond to give Ichika that extra bit of depth. Yoko Hikasa (Houki) , Yukana (Cecilia), Asami Shimoda (Huang), Kana Hanazawa (Charlotte) and Marina Inoue (Laura) all did a great job as well as the lead female characters, alongside Megumi Toyoguchi (she voiced Ichika's older sister Chifuyu, who is a legendary IS pilot and a teacher at the IS academy).

Music itself fit each individual scene rather nicely and battle music was well constructed to give a rather epic and emotional feel to it, but honestly I didn't really notice the music too much until the final episodes. This is when the series sound design really shined for me. While nothing truly to write home about, it was well done and fitting for the series.

Rating: 7

Presentation

Infinite Stratos (IS) is fairly stereotypical in many aspects. It also doesn't dive that deep into a plot during its twelve episode run. However, what it does do it does rather well. From the animation, to the well casted VAs, to the premises, IS is definitely above average in every aspect. While certainly not an legendary anime, it's certainly enough for me to consider it a guilty pleasure and recommend it for those that don't mind harem series. Bear in mind that IS flirts more with being mediocre than above average, but it is above average for a harem series.

This is a series that I plan on picking up as soon as it's released in the US. It's definitely one of my top ten guilty pleasures, even if it's stereotypical in so many manners. Not to mention it has the most unintentionally hilarious scene I have ever viewed.

Rating: 6

Final Verdict

6.33 (average)

Reviewed by CyanideBlizzard, Apr 03, 2011

Comments

  1. Weskalia Apr 03, 2011

    Now that was fast, only four days after it ended. I was planning to write one for IS sometimes later and was going to slam it heavily.

    I wonder if 7 is worth for IS. Which one is worse? A series starts out mediocre or a series looks promising then turns mediocre. Either way, both can be applied for IS, I did enjoy its artistry a little bit but so far, the whole thing is like a typical fanservice harem with dull leads, generic plot and we all know harem = bad writings. But yep, it didn't develop an overreacting plot despite its heavy mecha nature. And there are some scenes that exceed stupidity, particularly that screenshot when they changing, it's funny, one of them could have changed in the bathroom but no because of fanservice treatments.

    Anyway, it's a nice review, not too long winding and opinions are opinions. ( ???? )

  2. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Apr 03, 2011

    For myself, I've struggled with harem series. One of the first series I watched was Tenchi Muyo (OVA) when it was aired on a US station here. It was edited, but it didn't change the fact that the series birthed my love for the harem series. Since then, it's been a love/hate relationship, mostly hate over the past five years. For myself, IS was sort of a breath of fresh air in the aspect that it did a lot of things I really enjoyed seeing in an anime series as oppose to a lot of others that just were abominations (To-Love-Ru and Girls Bravo come to mind). I won't disagree that my score is probably extremely generous and influenced on the fact that, in my opinion, there has been a huge lack of decent harem series in probably over five years.

    I won't disagree that in a lot of harem series, fan service is far too excessive and un-necessary and IS is no exception to that rule. However, I also felt it was nice that they took several bath scenes and instead chose to artistically censor them. It's just too bad that, later on, they have a scene where Ichika wakes up and Laura is sleeping next to him, naked. I guess some things will never change.

    merged: 04-03-2011 ~ 10:07pm
    I've updated my review to better reflect my scoring reasons : )

  3. z827 Apr 07, 2011

    I'm more of the "True Love" and "Vanilla" kinda guy , most Harem tends to be... well , very typical in many ways.

    Generally speaking , the only appeal I find in this Anime is the heroines. Their cute , their unique and their beautiful and that's it.
    The storyline is pretty average and even the Harem events are... well , unoriginal.

    I wouldn't go as far as giving the storyline a big 7 ( It deserves a lower score in my opinion ) and the typical plot standards of Infinite Stratos is getting old , particularly the "only guy in an area full of girls" setting , which does make it a Harem , but not in a creative way.
    What's more , some points you gave out in the story section should be in the enjoyability section.

    Still , I won't be as critical as them in this , but I daresay you did do pretty well for the Artwork and Enjoyability section of the review.

  4. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Apr 07, 2011

    To me, the story was something that I did actually enjoy. Believe or not, but I was hooked on the show during the first five-six episodes because I loved the concept behind the story and the development it was going along. In hindsight, I will admit that this review was far too generous and is far too based upon the fact that I haven't seen a (in my eyes) good harem series in years and further frustrated by just down right awful ones.

    Thanks for the tips!

  5. MisaSasekage Moderator Apr 08, 2011

    I've seen this show as well. I try to stay away from a lot of harem-type series because that usually means I'll find gratuitous fan service/nudity that in my opinion can turn a good show into something unwatchable or almost so in my opinion. But with IS, granted the plot was quite a bit predictable to me and there was still fanservice, though I was expecting that from the beginning, it wasn't handled in such a way that made me just want to drop the series. Nice review Blizzard^^

  6. lupinchan Apr 27, 2011

    heeheeh i very much liked how u talked about "guilty pleasures"

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